Author: ICanStopAnytime PM
Tami Taylor's always wanted to be able to tell her children a romantic tale of how their parents fell in love and of how their father proposed, but this isn't it. This is just Eric and Tami's reality. A Friday Night Lights fanfic featuring Eric Taylor, Tami Hayes, and Mo McArnold.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Tami T. & Eric T./Coach - Chapters: 24 - Words: 41,154 - Reviews: 84 - Favs: 4 - Updated: 10-18-12 - Published: 09-24-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8552784
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Tami and Eric don't ask their parents anymore questions about what becomes known around their apartment as "the incident." Shelley, however, tells Tami that she thinks Mom was seeing Mr. Taylor for almost a month prior to "the incident," because while Mrs. Hayes claimed to be going to a Wednesday evening women's Bible study, Shelley heard from another woman at church that that Bible study wrapped up four weeks ago.
"No!" moans Tami over the phone. She's at the kitchen table, a few feet from Eric, who is fiddling with the stove because the landlord hasn't come to fix it. "That cannot be happening."
"Why not?" Shelley asks. "Listen, Ms. Psychology Major, Mom's lonely, in case you haven't noticed. And you know what? So is Mr. Taylor. And he's not bad looking for a forty-something guy. And you know mom's still gorgeous even when she tries to hide it with those frumpy clothes. All the men notice her."
"But she and Eric's dad disagree about so many things, and he lives in his head, and I think he's still in love with his late wife, and Mom – "
"- They're both single, they're right next door to each other, he's a man, she's a woman - "
"Shelley, ewwww, gross, just – "
"- What?" Shelley insists. "It's not like they're related in any way."
"Do you realize if they got married, Eric would be my stepbrother!"
Shelley laughs while a muttered curse and a clanging arises in the kitchen. Eric slams the stove shut and sucks his thumb. Then he opens the oven door and kneels again.
"That's true," Shelley says. "I didn't think of that. And – oh my God, even grosser – if they had a kid, he'd be your half brother and Eric's half brother."
"Well she's too old to have another kid, thank God."
"Oh really, college genius?" Shelley asks. "She just turned forty. You know women can have children well into their forties."
"Can," Tami says. "Doesn't mean it happens often. And it would be crazy for her to have another kid. God knows I'd never have a child that late in life."
"Look, Tami, you ought to just be glad mom is finally chilling out. She's become much less of a relationship Nazi. It's different now. It's better. I know it doesn't really affect you anymore, but it totally benefits me."
When Tami's off the phone, she asks Eric, "Why does your dad even want to date my mom? I thought he despised her."
"Apparently not. Can we not talk about this?"
"Fine. Can you quiz me for my psych test? Just make up questions from the lines I highlighted in the book."
"I don't understand that stuff."
"Yeah, but you can manage to quiz me on the terminology."
"A'ight," he says, laying then wrench down on top of the stove. "But then will you help me with my British lit paper?" He signed up for the class when he realized he hadn't yet filled his general literature requirement. He needs one such class to graduate at the end of the semester, even if he's majoring in phys ed and minoring in history. He tried to get into Popular Fiction, but that gut was already full, and he was stuck.
"What's your paper on?"
"Rudyard Kipling's poem, Gunga Din." He explains why he picked it. He wanted to know what his father meant, that day Eric told him he wasn't going pro, and his father, at first disappointed, had later replied, "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."
"And what do you think he meant?" Tami asks. "Now that you've read the whole poem?"
Eric sits at the kitchen table across from her. "That he's sorry for all the abuse he's heaped on me over the years. Not that it was really abuse. I mean…but he certainly could have been more encouraging. Less critical." He shrugs. "And that maybe he thinks it's more noble to be the water-bearer than the hero soldier, you know, better to be a coach than a football star. Maybe. I know he thinks I should have been able to go pro, but maybe he thinks I can do good things even if I'm not who you'd expect to be the hero of the poem."
"Sounds like you understand the poem pretty well. I don't think you need my help with the paper."
"I need you to check my spelling and grammar. And make sure it's in MLA format for me."
She laughs. "Be glad you married me."
"Trust me, I am."
She reaches for his hand across the table. "I am too."
To the relief of both Eric and Tami, the "incident" between their parents quickly becomes a thing of the past. Mr. Taylor's cousin dies, and he moves to New York to take over the restaurant. Tami's mom does get remarried, but to someone who is a perfect stranger to Tami, a real estate investor from San Antonio who blows into South Dillon and starts buying up cheap land when the oil business goes south and the town begins dying. He plans to tear down the houses and sell the land to farmers. Mr. Thomas visits the Baptist Temple while he's in town. Being a more mainstream Baptist, he doesn't care for the fundamentalist service, but he notices Dolly Hayes.
It's a whirlwind courtship, and Tami meets her new stepfather for the first time at the wedding. There's no time for her to form a real opinion, but he seems decent enough, and at least her mom is now set for life financially. Mr. Thomas packs up Tami's mom and younger sister and moves them to San Antonio. Shelley reports that her stepfather is "Okay. He treats Mom well. He doesn't ever hit on me, thank God." Tami's glad to hear it. She's seen enough to know it sometimes happens, and though she didn't tell Shelley, it was one of her fears about Mom getting remarried to someone Tami hadn't vetted. "He's not around much," Shelley says. "He works a lot, but he's a nice guy when he's around. Mom seems to like him."
"I should hope so," Tami said. "Since she married him."
"Yeah, well, it's all cool I guess." Shelley doesn't live with them long. She graduates six months after they marry and moves to Dallas with her boyfriend. He breaks up with her a few months after they move in together, but Shelley finds a new place to live and makes Dallas her home.
Eric gets the Pee Wee coaching position. He also teaches P.E at a junior high in Waco for a year. Tami gets hired at a nearby high school as a counselor. A year later, Eric is offered an assistant coaching position at a junior high in Midland, where he can also teach history. Tami says, "Take it. I'll find something there." She does, another counseling position, but she quits that when Julie is born. It's just as well, because soon enough, Eric gets the chance to be a quarterback coach at a high school in Macedonia, and off they go again.
Tami and Eric make their own family together, their own stable anchor in the stormy sea of dysfunction that rages all around them. Their ship bobs up and down with the winds, of course, but it's never blown away. It's not the most romantic story ever told, but it's true, and there's beauty in it. When Julie first asks how they met and fell in love, Tami will say, "We were high school sweethearts."
"That's it?" Julie will reply. "You just dated in high school and got married?"
"That's it," Tami will say. "We're just your boring old parents."
Eric, coming out of his home office, will overhear the tail end of the conversation and insist, "Boring's good" as he plops down on the couch and puts his arm around his wife. Nodding to his daughter, he'll conclude, "Just pray you find yourself a boring husband one day."
Matt Saracen looks out-of-his-skin, but handsome, in his tuxedo. "Who are all these relatives?" he asks. Other than Julie's aunt Shelley, he's never met – or even heard of - any of the extended family that now congregates at various tables throughout the reception hall. Several of the Panthers and Matt's art industry friends are here, but as far as family is concerned, there's only his mother and grandmother.
"Weddings bring my relatives out of the woodwork," Julie tells him. She runs her hands absently over the folds of her dress. It much more spectacular than the simple one her mother wore at her own wedding, but it's still not over-the-top.
Julie takes Matt by the hand and leads him around to make the introductions. He meets sixty-something aunts and uncles and forty-something cousins of Coach and Mrs. Coach, but he can't keep straight who's on who's side of the family. Then Julie directs Matt toward a young man, maybe twenty, probably twenty-one, because he's just picked up a glass of wine from the bar and is drinking it openly. He has reddish brown hair and blue-green eyes. "This is my uncle," Julie whispers as they approach.
"Uncle?" Matt hisses. "He looks like he's your age."
The young man smiles at Julie when the couple draws near, and a dimple appears in his left cheek. "Good to see you, Julie," he says. "How long has it been?"
"Well, we saw each other at your mom's funeral," Julie answers, "so …nine years?"
"Not exactly the Brady Bunch, are we? Well, congratulations."
"You're her uncle," Matt says in disbelief.
"Jim Thomas." He extends his hand and shakes Matt's. "Julie's grandma was my mom. She married my dad and had me in her forties. So I'm Tami's half-brother. I grew up in San Antonio and didn't see her much. I saw more of Shelley. They've always been more like aunts than sisters to me. Well, Tami has anyway. Shelley…Shelley's Shelley."
"Hey, I heard that!" Shelley appears from behind Jim and puts an arm around his shoulder. "Listen, I gave you lots of great advice when you started dating, just like any good aunt – or big sister - would."
Jim looks at Matt and whispers, "And I just did the opposite of whatever she told me to do."
"Yeah, and how did that work out for you?" Shelley asked. "You don't have a girlfriend."
"No," he says, raising his glass of wine to his lips, "but I have a 1.5 million dollar business and a boyfriend."
Matt's eyebrow shoots up.
"Touché," Shelley replies.
When they're finished talking to Julie's uncle, Matt says, "What about the priest? What's up with him?" A man whose dark black hair is half taken over by streaks of silver sits next to Coach and Mrs. Coach. He's wearing a traditional priest's cassock, and a white collar, and his dark brown cane is resting against the table.
"That's my grandpa," Julie says. "I'll introduce you."
Matt, a little stunned, shakes hands with Father Graydon Taylor. Matt assumed Coach Taylor's dad would be a Methodist, just like Coach and Mrs. Coach, and certainly never speculated he'd be a priest. Julie's never had much to say about her extended family, to put it mildly.
"They let you out of the monastery for this, gramps?" Julie asks.
Father Taylor smiles as he stands. "No, I busted out, but how could I miss it." He kisses her on both cheeks before sitting back down next to Mrs. Coach.
"Okay," Matt admits when they're semi-alone by the punch bowl. "I'm a little confused. If he's a priest…" He waves a finger toward Coach Taylor "Why does he have a son? Is he Episcopalian?"
"No, he's Catholic. But he didn't become a priest until I was like five, and I was seven or eight when he became a monk." She glances over at her grandfather.
"He really lives in a monastery?" Matt asks.
"Yeah. He went to seminary when he moved to New York, while he was running this restaurant. And then one day, he just up and sells it, gives all the money to the Church, and enters this monastery. My dad says it suits him well though because he's kind of…I don't know…internal."
Matt shakes his head. "You have a weird family," he says.
"Well, my parents are normal and boring."
"Yeah, when your dad isn't getting rocks thrown through his window and your mom's car isn't being surrounded by angry picketers."
Julie studies her parents from across the way. "Huh, when you put it that way…" She turns to Matt and smiles brightly. "Maybe we'll be lucky enough to have a boring life together."
His full lips curve as he bends to kiss her. "I could get used to that," he says. "As long as there's one place it's exciting."
"Mhmmmmm…." She murmurs back as she leans in for another kiss. "I think we can manage that."